ST MIRREN manager Oran Kearney has told his players that it might take “five or ten years” before they appreciate the enormity of what they achieved by staying in the Premiership.

A nervous play-off was settled by penalty kicks and Kearney wants St Mirren to have the chance to savour the achievement before the pressure starts to build ahead of next season.

“I don’t think they will realise what an achievement this is for months or years,” he said. “It might be five or ten years down the line when they really understand the turnaround we’ve had this season and what it led to today.”

And the Saints manager reserved particular praise for goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky who produced three saves in the shootout.

“Sometimes you just feel things are written in the stars,” enthused Kearney. “I was very confident when it went to penalties. I felt that Vaclav Hladky had the big saves in him. I’m delighted for him on a personal level. That performance probably puts him down in history.

“It’s the biggest achievement of my career, absolutely. I’ve won cups but the journey we had to go on this year - I came into a club where I didn’t know anyone.

“I’m not looking forward to the new season at all at the minute! I’m near passed myself. When the dust settles and we get time to reflect, the building for next season will start quickly.”

Meanwhile, United manager Robbie Nielson couldn’t hide his disappointment as the Tannadice side prepare for another season of Championship football.

“It’s the cruellest way to lose a game of football,” he said. “The two teams were evenly matched over both games and in extra-time. Ultimately, somebody has to lose it. Unfortunately it was us today.

“We’ll use this as motivation for next season. There is pressure on these penalties. After we missed our first one it gives them a lift.

“We practiced for the semi-final and for this game. There’s a different pressure when it’s the real thing. Credit to St Mirren.

“But there’s no point in sitting here talking about penalties now. It’s done and dusted. The important thing is that we come back in pre-season ready to go again.

“There wasn’t a lot of quality on show. People were shanking it all over the place and kicking it out of play. We sliced a clearance for their goal and then they’ve won on penalties.”